I was honoured by the invite to give a talk about my current interests, influences, and inspirations – by my friend and mentor, Keith Cole, to his Intro to Visual Culture class at Seneca College in North York – near my old stomping grounds, where I grew up.
Was super pleased and in good company presenting my 25 latest paintings, [Red & Blue] from the series Productive Limitations, at the Gladstone Hotel’s //The Annual// Shifting Ground this past October 10-13 here in Toronto. Thanks to curator Katherine Dennis for her work in creating cohesion out of disparity for this group exhibition. Here a few detail shots I took of the work, as well as an install photo by fellow exhibitor, Tom Ridout. Thanks Tom!
Bottom: Install photo by Tom Ridout
More on Productive Limitations:
Imagined as a modular system, Productive Limitations exploits the same process over and over, such that each panel is constructed following the exact same sequence of steps. Even so, product defies process, as aleatory chance enters the equation and no two panels are exactly alike.
With the basic unit of one square, there exist four possible orientations for the work––simple enough. With just four of these squares, there arise 45,280 possible permutations [ordered combinations] of the work. With twenty-five panels, as the work is shown here installed, the possibilities jump to 3,761,767,332,187,389,431,968,
The audience was invited to move the panels around to explore some of these iterations – allowing them to ‘shift the ground’.
SkeirGallery – TORONTO
[June 2 to July 16 2011]
New works by Shawn Skeir
It’s official – SPRUNG done been sprang! With the lines between seasons blurring on a daily, even hourly, basis this year – the opening of Shawn Skeir’s latest show this past Thursday, provided a welcome dose of intensity and energy to all in attendance. Meant to “explore and celebrate Spring’s invigorating spirit of rebirth” and the season’s “transition from dormancy to new found vigour”, Skeir employs a wide spectrum of colours and techniques in expressing this transitory phase. From softer, natural hues in his Seascapes to full blown neon in his DNA and Abstract paintings, Parkdale’s master of colour is successful in getting his point across. See for yourself at 1537A Queen Street West until July 16.
Abstract Expressionist New York: Masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art
Art Gallery of Ontario – TORONTO
[May 28 to September 4 2011]
Works by William Baziotes, Louise Bourgeois, Rudy Burckhart, Harry Callahan, Paul Caponigro, Walter Chappell, Willem de Kooning, Robert Frank, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Philip Guston, Hans Hoffman, Franz Kline, Lee Krasner, Norman Lewis, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Isamu Noguchi, Jackson Pollock, Richard Pousette-Dart, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Aaron Siskind, David Smith, Clyfford Still
Curated by Anne Temkin, MoMA
This morning, I took in the members’ preview of the AGO’s latest exhibition Abstract Expressionist New York: Masterpieces from the Museum of Modern Art. The show officially opens this Saturday, May 28.
It is hard to draw solid lines around the beginning and end of the Abstract Expressionism movement, but it generally refers to a school of painting based out of New York City in the 1940s and 1950s. Curators credit art critic William Coates with first using the term and thereby naming the movement in 1946. Wiki points out an earlier usage, in 1919, by German magazine Der Sturm as it referred to German Expressionism. In this instance, presented along with the painters most usually associated with the era are several of their photography and sculpture contemporaries.
The exhibition leads with a quote from Jackson Pollock, not so arguably, the most well known of the featured artists. Pollock is quoted as saying, “The modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or any other past culture. Each age finds its own techniques.” Too true, Jackson, too true. As it refers to the show in its entirety, these ‘techniques’ are wide ranging but with a great commonality in the boldness of scale and strokes, colour and composition. Further to the definition of the movement, though pieces may have their roots in reality, the end results are abstracted and non-representational.
With at least six or seven galleries devoted to the show, visitors are invited to discover artists one or two at a time [with the exception of a few rooms]. This thoughtful setup allows for a quick, structured survey or a more ambling assessment. Either way you choose to go about it, there are surprises around every corner. On return visits [yes, worth repeat trips] I will be employing both techniques.
Arshile Gorky [1904-1948] Garden in Sochi, 1943
Adolph Gottlieb [1903-1974] Flotsam at Noon [Imaginary Landscape], 1952
Willem de Kooning [1904-1997] Painting, 1948
Aaron Siskind [1903-1991] series of photographic prints
Isamu Noguchi [1904-1988] Work Sheet for Sculpture, 1946 Untitled, 1946
Franz Kline [1910-1962] Chief, 1950 White Forms, 1955 Le Gros, 1961
Lee Krasner [1908-1994] Gaea, 1966
Joan Mitchell [1925-1992] Ladybug, 1957
Jackson Pollock [1912-1956] No.1A, 1948 Echo No.25 1951, 1951, White Light, 1954
Mark Rothko [1903-1970] No.5/No.22, 1950 No.14 [Horizontals, White Over Darks], 1961
Ad Reinhardt [1913-1967] Abstract Painting, 1960-61
Philip Guston [1913-1980] Painting, 1954 Inhabiter, 1965
A few of these works can be previewed on the AGO website.
La Guerra Que No Hemos Visto: Un Proyecto de Memoria Historica
The War We Have Not Seen: A Historical Memory Project
Museo La Tertulia – CALI, Colombia
[January 27 to April 17 2011]
A Project by Juan Manuel Echavarria
Curated by Ana Tiscornia
With this show having been mounted first by the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogota late last year, its second and extended incarnation at Cali’s premier modern art museum is well merited. At first glance, the colourful collection of paintings strikes as infantile, primary pieces looking for a home on a fridge somewhere. A second look, though, turns into a stare. These are not the works of children, but of fledgling artists – former combatants in Colombia‘s ongoing internal conflict. Organized by Echavarria into workshops aimed at bringing the etchings of war from the mind to the surface, aimed at capturing and preserving the collective memory.
Grand pastoral scenes of green hillsides are scarred with blood and big blue skies sub in bullets for birds. Tiny figures are out of scale with the works, but perfectly in scale as they relate humans to the universe. Tiny figures carry guns and knives. Tiny figures are being shot and stabbed.
The title is an interesting choice, no mistake undoubtedly, in the selection of ‘el preterito perfecto’ or ‘the present perfect’ for the tense. Perhaps as a student of the language, the choice stands out more prominently, but its use conveys that this War is not over, that past events continue into the present. Not the “War We Did Not See” but a translation more along the lines of “The War We May or May Not Have Seen But Could Still See”.
So, who’s fighting you ask? In general terms, it’s FARC [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionares de Colombia] aka versus paramilitary groups sponsored by Colombia’s government [the US among others]. Those interested can read up on the conflict and its roots in La Violencia. Not to say that there has not been a marked improvement in safety and security for citizens and visitors alike, especially in the last five to ten years. Rather, to acknowledge what Colombians freely do, that a tougher past has given way to a tough present, but in spite of this, by and large citizens remain optimistic and well positioned for the future.
Below are a few personal highlights from the show. It is interesting to note that no individual artists are credited in the show – nor are they credited in the online catalogue – testament it seems to the still sensitive nature of their past and present roles in society.